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AS1 103 - lall 2010
WCP P107 - 18 2:00 p.m.
Lecture 01 - Introduction
Syllabus
You can get a copy of the syllabus from:
1. Angel Learning System
2. Course Webpage:
http://ast103.posterous.com
Summary
1. Size of the Universe
2. SI System of Units
3. Powers of Ten
To the Moon: 1.3 Seconds
Measuring Distance:
1. Size of the Universe
The Speed of Light
Around the Earth:
7 Times in 1 Second
The Sun: 8 Minutes
Jupiter:
40 Minutes
Pluto: 5 Hours
The Closest Stars: 4.3 Years
The center of the Milky Way Galaxy:
30 Thousand Years
The Andromeda Galaxy:
2 Million Years
The Virgo Cluster:
60 Million Years
The Distant Universe:
Billions of Years
2. SI System of Units
We can measure length using various units.
For example:
Millimeters
Inches
Feet
Yards
Meters
Miles
Furlongs
To avoid confusion, scientists have an agreed system of
units for all measurements.
This system is called the SI system
SI is from the French “Système international d'unités”
Most scientific measurements are made using these
units to ensure experiments are consistent and
reproducible.
Some examples of SI units:
Name Unit Symbol Quantity
meter m Length
kilogram kg Mass
second s Time
ampere A Electric current
kelvin K Temperature
mole mol Amount of a Substance
Measurements made using non-SI units can be
converted into SI units.
For example, the distance light travels in 1 year is often
called the light year, and used as a measurement of
distance.
1 light year is approximately
9,460,528,405,000,000!meters
Scientists often have to work with large numbers.
For example, working with light years in meters would
quickly become tedious when writing out the full
numbers.
To avoid this, scientists use a shorthand for writing
large numbers called scientific notation.
3. Powers of Ten
The distance of 1 light year;
9,460,528,405,000,000!meters
can be rewritten as:
9.461 x 10
15
meters
This is a much more convenient way to write and
calculate using large numbers.
Scientists also use prefixes to indicate powers of ten,
also known as orders of magnitude.
For example, a kilogram is a thousand grams, or 10
3

grams.
A kilometer is a thousand meters, or 10
3
meters
So kilo means 1 thousand or 10
3
times a quantity.
Here is a list of the most commonly used prefixes,
many of which you may see during this course:
Name
Symbol
Factor
kilo- mega- giga- tera-
k M G T
10
3
10
6
10
9
10
12
Name
Symbol
Factor
milli- micro- nano- pico-
m
μ
n p
10
!3
10
!6
10
!9
10
!12

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